Tuesday, August 17, 2004

XBox R.I.P.

My XBox died this weekend. It was almost three years old to the day. It displayed it's first diagnostic code (11) citing that I needed to contact tech support early on Saturday morning. By that afternoon, while I was trying to transfer all of my save games to memory cards, I received 5 more different diagnostic codes ranging from 04 - 11. It was obvious that something was very wrong here. After researching the XBox technical support route and discovering that it would cost me $50+ each way just to ship the box to the tech address, and that then I would have to add the cost of repairs, I decided to simply pop out to the local store and buy a new one. After having visited three stores that were out of stock, I was beginning to get a little concerned about which deities I may have offended lately. It turns out, according to a sales girl at the EBX that sold me their LAST XBox in stock, that MS had decided to seriously cut back on production because people don't play as many video games during the summer months. Evidently something went very wrong in the chain of communications here because I had been chasing people all day who were bloodthirsty for their little green (black) boxes.

The other surprise that I received this weekend was the news that apparently three years is considered to be a long lifespan for an XBox, and that 1-2 years is more typical. Considering that I still have a working NES that is over 20 years old, I have to call into question that modern manufacturing techniques have progressed over the last couple of decades. It is times like this when the conspiracy theories about planned obselescence don't seem quite as far fetched.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Farewell to Intel Corporation

This is my final day working for Intel and, as such, most of the morning will be spent reminiscing about the times spent here, passing contact info to friends, and making sure that I collect all of my precious junk before I leave.

This is not only my last day here, but also my last day as a contractor (for a while at least). As of Monday morning, I will be a permanent employee of Corillian Corporation. With my wife returning to school to study BioChemistry this fall, I am thankful to be working on solid ground.

So farewell Intel Corporation, it has been a brief yet rewarding relationship. I have met myriad interesting people and made many great new friends.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Custom gamertag and messenger icons

After a couple of google searches, I found this very useful link to http://www.xboxfriends.com/bannergen that will allow you to create custom images for your xbox live gamertag and msn messenger handle. Just type in your tag or handle and click the button to have your own custom image created for use on your website.

Special formatting characters in SQL data

I recently worked through a bug with someone who was storing data queries in sql data columns. Now I'm not going to get into why this is a bad idea in the first place. There are many limiting factors present in the development of this solution that substantiate the decision to store the query this way. The real interest here is that the query in question contained line feeds, carriage returns, and tab characters to make the query more readable in Enterprise Manager. Unfortunately, because this data was then read directly into a string by a data reader, the formatting characters were present in the query text when it was presented back to the RDBMS for execution thus causing an exception.

The database analyst argued that many of his queries contained carriage returns, line feeds, and tab characters and that the problem was therefore with the code that retrieved the query from the database. However, all of the other queries were stored procedures which the SQL data engine parses into compiled code thus removing the special characters. This example demonstrates one of the differences between stored procedures and plain text queries, especially where formatting characters are involved.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

MCP 70-315

I am almost prepared to take the 70-315 - Developing and Implementing Web Applications with Visual C# .NET and Visual Studio .NET. With a final pass of the exam cram book and a couple of practice examinations, I will be ready to register and (hopefully) pass the exam.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

XBox Live Rocks!

Finally, I have setup my XBox Live! service and I have to say that it rocks! I am amazed how slick the in-game voice communicators are. I didn't think that it was possible to have 8 people in a game, all chatting to each other real time while racing without any lag. Yet Project Gotham Racing 2 now provides that experience on a nightly basis.